Orignally posted by Coach J.

Hey everyone.  This is my first post for this site.  I am hoping I am the good luck charm as the Cards were really good today!  Here is my take on the game.

I really like Marquette.  At some point, prognosticators will cease to be surprised by the Eagles annual knack of over-achieving.  Buzz Williams is a “coach’s coach.”  He is a classic grinder, working his way up through the ranks as an assistant coach and head coach (he was previously at the University of New Orleans- a graveyard for coaches.  Believe me, I’ve been to games at UNO where the crawdads in attendance outnumbered the fans).  I love watching his teams play because they keep the game simple and want to do a few things very well.  Marquette always wants to:

1)   Win the paint on offense and defense (as you heard Jay Bilas mention countless times this afternoon)

2)   Get more high quality shots than your opponent (contrasted with a Pitino coached team who’s goal is to pressure you like crazy and get more volume shots than the opponents)

Before the game, I sat down to compare these two teams.  Normally, when I compare two teams something will clearly jump off the paper at me.  As I started looking at Marquette compared to Louisville, it struck me how evenly matched these two are.  Just take a look at the stats Mark posted here.

When two teams are evenly matched, I like to focus on the basics when determining keys to a game.  Usually, the team that takes care of these will win these “50-50 games.”  So, before tip off I wrote these things down to focus on.  These were my Keys to the Game:

1)   Rebounding

2)   Defense

3)   Intangibles 

Let’s look at how the Cardinals did in these categories.

1)   Rebounding- each team came into the contest with a +4.6 rebound margin per game.   Louisville finished this game +12 (including 13 offensive rebounds).  A huge key to a 19 point win.

2)   Defense- The Cardinals held the Eagles to 36% shooting, which is tremendous.  This is the most telling statistic about why the Cards got a “W.”

3)   Intangibles- The Cards destroyed the Eagles in this category.  With the exception of the first eight minutes (when it looked like UofL was ready for their Super Bowl party and not the game), the Cards were by far the most intense and physical team.  Honestly, this shocked me as I’ve come to expect rugged battles by these two teams.  Montrezl Harrell’s energy was TREMENDOUS (6 pts & 6 rebs) as was Wayne Blackshear, Stephan Van Treese and Kevin Ware (he played far better than his stat line would indicate).  These four provided a great spark off the bench this team has been lacking in the past few weeks.  The bench combined for 19 points, 13 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 assists.

What we learned from this game:

1)   Siva and Smith are definitely in the discussion of best backcourts in the country along with the groups from Missouri, Michigan and Syracuse.  Peyton (14 pts, 3 rebs, 7 ast, 2 stls) and Russ (18 pts, 5 rebs, 3 ast, 2 stls) do so many good things both offensively and defensively.

2)   Louisville will be hard to beat when the “bigs” play this well collectively.  All four (Dieng, Behanan, Harrell and SVT) played really well in spurts.  When you get all these guys rebounding, running the floor and blocking shots like they did today, you have a team that can be special.  They overwhelmed the Marquette posts today.

3)   The Big East is a marathon, not a sprint.  The last two weeks have probably been a testament to the depth and rigors of the Big East and not an indictment on the Cardinals.  It would appear this team has its legs and confidence back.

Now, we have a week away from the YUM! Center with trips to play a pesky Rutgers team and a visit to Notre Dame, a tough place to play.  I am looking forward to seeing how the Cards respond to these two tests.

What did you think of today’s game?  I would love to hear your take…

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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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